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State of Emergency Declared in Lake County

Flooding concerns continue along the Des Plaines and Fox Rivers, along with the Chain O'Lakes.

A state of emergency has been declared in Lake County due to the flooding throughout the area.

At a press briefing Thursday, Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor announced that he declared the state of emergency around 9 a.m. in an effort to not only further facilitate coordination among agencies to deal with the flooding but to also attempt to get flood assistance funds from the federal government should they become available.

"With three rivers running through Lake County, we have a wet topography and are prone to flooding," said Lawlor.

Communities across Lake County have been inundated with upwards of 4 inches of rain, said Kent McKenzie, Lake County Emergency Management coordinator. Places that saw minor flooding are now expecting to see major or even record flooding, according to National Weather Service predictions, McKenzie said.

The water level Des Plaines River at Route 120 has seen a nearly 3-foot rise, McKenzie said.

Erik Jensen, public information officer for the village of Gurnee, said the Des Plaines River in his village was at 10.13 feet this morning and is expected to crest at 11.5 feet, which would rank it among the village's top five flood events. He added that residents on Emerald, Kilbourne and Old Grand between O'Plaine Road and Grand Avenue have been urged to leave. It is not a mandatory evacuation, Jensen said.

McKenzie said property owners are encouraged to take protective action. Already, Lake County Emergency Management personnel have distributed 200,000 sandbags to local communities and townships.

The Fox River and Chain O'Lakes are both closed to boating, and flood levels on the Chain could exceed the previous record flooding event, which occurred in 2008-08, McKenzie said.

Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani addressed the flooding situation that occurred today at Libertyville High School. A pipe burst underground in the basement, but there was no damage to the structure itself. He added that Butler Lake, which is located behind the school, has encroached into the high school parking lot but is not impacting the school building.

High water levels could persist through next week, McKenzie noted.

"It's going to take a long time to drain down," he said.

He urged residents to be careful when traveling on the roads.

"Be very cautious," he said. "Do not drive through standing water, because you don't know the condition of the pavement under that."

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marilyn April 19, 2013 at 11:24 AM
"Be careful when driving on roads' ARen't we always careful>? And where else do we drive, really??
Bob Miaples April 20, 2013 at 02:15 AM
No people aren't always careful. You can see the drivers driving through the deep flooded streets on TV and the genius who firefighters had to rescue in the newspaper.

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